Drupalcon Szeged

Whiteboard wiki recipe - now with Acquia Drupal

Last year DrupalCon Szeged 2008 introduced a few new technologies for helping people find out where things are happening both in terms of on-site conference activities and extracurricular fun. We've introduced a digital whiteboard which was using fixed size Drupal node displays set up in a wiki form, so everyone could edit any whiteboard item. This was helpful for people checking in from hotel rooms for announcements and also on-site because the building was so huge (see below) that running to the whiteboard every so often was not an option.

Even after 1.5 years, people keep asking about certain things on the website, so I decided to start off with the whiteboard and explain how we did it. Sharing the exact solution we used to do would not cut it though, since we used Drupal 5 and some custom code based formatting, which would not be up to today's standards. So I recreated the whiteboard using the latest Acquia Drupal codebase instead, merely configuring some content types, permissions and a view.

For this starter recipe I used Drupal core and Views only from the Acquia Drupal package, so you can also repeat with just these modules only.

Just posted "The tech story behind the Drupalcon Szeged conference website"

I had many requests for a case study on how we did the Drupalcon Szeged 2008 website. Granted, it was a long time ago, I just had time recently to do a writeup, sprinkle it with links to modules we used and attach some images for your viewing pleasure.

While it is waiting for consideration for a drupal.org front page promotion, since you are reading (an aggregation of) my blog, you'll get to see The tech story behind the Drupalcon Szeged conference website now. I hope it will help you get some insight into the good and bad decisions we made while we built the website, and the technology behind certain fun functions, like the registration system, the drag-and-drop scheduler, the wiki whiteboard and even the dynamic projection screen at the venue entrance. It was certainly fun to build.

Watch out, the next Drupal fest, Drupalcon Washington DC is coming up quickly in just two months!

Special thanks to Robert Douglass for proof-reading and fixing some of my non-native English writing.

Only two weeks to go in the Drupalcon Szeged 2008 logo contest

It was two weeks ago, that we announced the logo contest for the next Drupalcon, which is going to be in Szeged, Hungary at the end of August. We are glad that we managed to energize the Hungarian and a bit of the international community to come out with ideas. We are at ten logo ideas, and it is only two weeks left (until next week's Friday) to submit your logo suggestions! Keep those coming!

Ivan Raszl opens the Drupalcon Szeged 2008 logo contest

This beautiful Monday morning, a few little presents arrived to the Drupalcon Szeged 2008 website. First entry to the Drupalcon Logo Contest from Ivan Raszl, who based his design on the floral patterns of traditional Hungarian embroidery, porcelain and furniture design. He even went ahead and created some renderings of the logo on several swag and even outdoor advertising. Not that we would be there already to do that for Drupalcons.

And while I was working down my email queue, mag3ee also submitted another entry based on our national colors and the Szeged paprika. Keep these coming or just watch as entries pop up in the list! Note that voting will open when submissions are closed.

In other good news, people from as far as India and Australia are planning to come. Caitlin Johnstone is looking to discuss child care in her forum topic Anyone else looking for childcare? As she explains:

Are there any other Drupal families out there going to Hungary? We thought it would be a good one to bring the kids to since it'll be a bit more intimate than usual, but we need to organise some childcare on the conference days.

Bar bringing someone, I was wondering if we could hire a nanny over there, or perhaps even organise some kid-happy programs if there were enough other families planning to bring their little ones.

Let's see who else is interested in nannies, so that we can suggest and/or help you find suitable service. Reply in the forums.

A peak into the Drupalcon Szeged organization website

If you look at the Drupalcon Szeged 2008 website's tracker, you'll see that most announcement posts are attributed to me. This is all too misleading, because in many cases, I am merely channelling information collected and discussed by various organizers to the public website.

This is the first Drupalcon for which the organizers have set up a management website, with the sole purpose to serve the organization team as good as possible, and while it is certainly not perfect, it works well so far. The "Do Drupaltown" website uses the core profile module, the organic groups and casetracker modules, as well as some small helpers like comment upload, upload preview, markdown with smartypants, diff and of course OpenID. Nothing earth-shatteringly special, just trying to work out easy ways to collaborate.

The two basic requirements were to have work groups for specific tasks, in the name of limiting scope and handing out responsibility. An event organized with a thousand attendees expected has so many aspects it is very hard to have a good overview of each aspect. So we have an organic groups setup with some top level groups and several focus groups for tasks like producing (valuable) materials for the registration packages, discussing and solving venue tasks, and so on. Because in numerous cases, we need responsibles to hand out tasks to, organic groups nicely fits with its concept of group ownership and memberships. It also supports mailing updates when new content is published, which is good to drive idle volunteers to the site when things are happening.

Since we are tracking tasks, these also need to have responsibles, an importance level, and a completion status. This allows us to have a running list of important tasks to complete, which helps us focus, know about the status of different jobs and get a distributed team to do that. Case tracker helps us there, it does integration with organic groups, so we can relate tasks to groups, email updates to tasks are mailed and severity and status flags are supported. We also have a patch pending for the views integration to be able to order by task priority, which was a trivial thing we needed to produce lists of tasks from most important down to less important.

Picture of the organizer overviewGiven how distributed our team is (only some people onsite in Szeged, lots of others are around the country elsewhere, while some volunteers from as far as Prague or Belgium), we need a way to reach any given member of the team when we are in a pressing need. We use the core profile module, which provides enough features for us to collect skype names, phone numbers, living locations, and so on, and it builds up a volunteer overview page, which gives us instant access to the contact information of anybody in our team. The only little glitch with profile module is that the number of volunteers grew above 20, so it does not fit on one page by default. Talk about sweet problems...

All-in all, our volunteers are happily working towards completing our goals, and we are marching on to come out with new exciting things for you regularly. Now that the public website of Drupalcon Szeged 2008 is building out, you will notice the volunteers themselves more there too, not just through my filtering.